Health & Safety Department

Manual handling

Guidance and information on manual handling tasks at work.


Many of the accidents reported each year are associated with the manual handling of loads. Sprains and strains, particularly of the back, are the injuries which most often occur. In many cases, these injuries result in a temporary absence from work but can sometimes be serious enough to lead to permanent disablement. It is often not appreciated that many manual handling injuries are cumulative rather than being directly attributable to any single handling incident.

It is, therefore, vitally important that manual handling accidents are reported to Health and Safety Department, so that hazardous operations can be promptly identified and remedial action taken to prevent repetition.

Risk assessment

Regulations and associated guidance require that assessments are made of manual handling operations, so as to reduce the risks of injuries. These assessments should take into account four factors:

  • the task
  • the load
  • the working environment
  • individual capability

The views of staff are of particular value in identifying manual handling problems, and employees, and their Trade Union Safety Representatives, should report any problems experienced with manual handling operations to their immediate supervisors/managers.


Training for University staff in safe manual handling is available from the Training and Audit Unit.

Manual handling training